Basking in the success of its popular cartoon characters like ‘Chhota Bheem’, Green Gold Licensing & Merchandising, a division of GGAPL entered the retail space. In an interview, Tomasz Walczak, VP, Sales & Marketing, Green Gold Stores shares the company’s expansion plans in India through franchising.
Rita G Chauhan (RGC): How was the idea of ‘Green Gold Store’ conceptualised? How has been the journey so far?
Tomasz Walczak (TW): Green Gold Licensing & Merchandising, a division of Green Gold Animation Pvt. Ltd (GGAPL) started sourcing products in 2008 just after the huge success on Chhota Bheem TM cartoon on Pogo channel. In the following year we received the first requests for license for Chhota Bheem trade mark (TM) and other characters branded products. With time products became popular and the idea of our own ‘Green Gold Store’ was conceptualised. We began from two company-owned stores in Hyderabad and within 12 months we have grown to 21 stores across India via franchised business model.
RGC: What inspired the company to adopt the franchise route for expansion of its retail network?
TW: Chhota Bheem TM cartoon series is highly popular and recognisable across India, it provides us exposure to kids, parents and others, and all interested is dealing with Chhota Bheem TM merchandise. Whereas Green Gold group, as merchandise trading company is still very young and was unable to quickly reach out to children on its own and provide them an opportunity to experience their favorite characters. Therefore, to rapidly expand our base, we decided to adopt the franchise model of expansion. We also found it to be the best way to give local entrepreneurs who are well aware of local market, an opportunity to be part of Green Gold success story.
RGC: How many stores do you have currently in India? How many of these are franchised and company owned?
TW: As per now we have 21 Green Gold Stores. Two of them are company-owned and remaining 19 are running under the franchise business model.
RGC: What kind of products do you offer? What according to you is the scope for aspirants keen on taking the franchise for Green Gold Store?
TW: Green Gold Store offers wide variety of products base on all of our characters: Chhota Bheem TM, Mighty Raju, Chorr Police, Krishna Balram. We offer more than 1,200 SKUs under the categories like comic and activity books, home videos, DVDs, apparels with different designs and styles, gifts, stationery and novelties, games and puzzles, school products, and home decor range etc. Majority of products are sourced by the Company but we offer as well licensed products through our outlets.
RGC: What are your business expansions plans? Where do you see your brand in the next five years?
TW: We are on the beginning of journey. Our short term plan is to have 50 stores by second quarter of 2013 and 100 stores by end of 2013. In long term, as primarily an animation production house, we plan to develop new cartoons and characters. We are working on the new season of Chorr Police and Luv Kushh, both series are for Disney channel and of course already highly popular Mighty Raju on Pogo. These characters have been already made available on the merchandise offered by Green Gold Store.
RGC: What are the basic fundamentals that you seek for in your franchisees?
TW: Desired franchisees must love kids, and have trade experience. Many of our franchisees are mothers who realised the popularity of ‘Chhota Bheem’ through their kids and saw great opportunity and pleasure in dealing with kids’ merchandise.
RGC: How much initial investment and area requirements by aspiring franchisees?
TW: In present circumstances, we are in the phase that our requirements are growing every quarter due to the new products coming. I could say as much area as one can effort to pay the rent and it's in line with the business plan but not less than 500 sq. ft (carpet area) along with 100 sq. ft of storage space. However, investment varies according to city and ranges from seven lakh for tier III cities up to 14 lakh for tier I cities.
RGC: What can you predict about the future success of Green Gold Store?
TW: The key for the good operation of the store is the location and what goes with it. We are growing with such a speed that we have to control it, we put a lot of energy to keep our brand consistent, considering that we work pan India but still we are centralised and do not have regional posts. Green Gold Store is going to be one of the best brands in India, because we are strongly committed, we have huge group of fans and followers. The popularity of Chhota Bheem TM is still rising and we have already new characters and cartoons which are ready to take over the lead and keep Green Gold brand high.